By Capt. Matthew St ClairOctober 22, 2019
ILLESHEIM, Germany - A cool fall breeze blows across the Storck Barracks Airfield as soldiers from the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division prepare their aircraft to make final flights to port before departing Europe.
The 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division assumed the Atlantic Resolve Rotational Air Forces mission on Feb. 21, 2019 and will be handing over responsibility of the mission to the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division during a ceremony scheduled for Nov 1. This will mark the fifth iteration of Atlantic Resolve.
Since April 2014, U.S. Army Europe has led the Department of Defense's Atlantic Resolve land efforts by bringing units based in the U.S. to Europe for nine months at a time. The mission allows U.S. Army units to train and practice interoperability with their European counterparts across the continent, while also deterring adversarial aggression. "We are here to support our NATO allies and work on interoperability with them, and improve how we corporate and work together," said Capt. Jeremy Martini, commander of Bravo Company, 2-1 General Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
"We did several exercises and we worked with the Prince of Wales Royal Regiment. We did an air assault during Allied Spirit with them. We also did an air assault with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Croatia, the 82nd Airborne Division in Bulgaria, and then again during Saber Junction," said Martini in reference to the nine major exercises that 1CAB participated in during their rotation.
In addition to supporting major exercises across theater, 1CAB also directly supported over 21 NATO allied and partnered nations in events ranging from exercises to ceremonies, and even to real world medical evacuation operations.
In Latvia, while on their off time and traveling by train, Capt. Logan Gorges, Battalion Flight Surgeon, and Staff Sgt. Stephen Yang from 2-1 General Aviation Support Battalion, assigned to Task Force Nightmare North, 3-1 Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, acted quickly to save an elderly Latvian man who was having a stroke. "We called 113 (Latvian emergency medical phone number) and then worked with the train conductor to try and get the patient to the hospital right away," Said Gorges. "I think in our position, it was a little bit easier for us to understand the process of what was going on. We both have pretty extensive medical training and a lot of experience."
Soldiers from 1CAB made a long lasting positive impression on NATO allied and partnered nations throughout their rotation. Another significant event supported by 1CAB was the 75th D-Day remembrance in France. "The 75th D-Day operation was the most memorable event for me," said Martini. "France is one of our longest standing allies and we got to go there and receive a really warm welcome from the French people. We were able to honor the heroes and what they did 75 years earlier." 1CAB not only participated in the historical ceremonies, but also served as transportation for senior U.S. government officials to include a congressional delegation, the Secretary of the Army, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In the last few weeks of their rotation, the Soldiers from 1CAB are preparing to go home to Fort Riley, KS. But first, all aircraft and equipment must be loaded onto ships destined for the U.S, and a handover of mission completed with the incoming Atlantic Resolve rotational unit, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, GA. "I'm really excited to go home and I know a lot of the soldiers are excited too," said 2nd Lt. Nicole McCombs, the Unit Maintenance Officer, and Fuel and Water Platoon Leader, Alpha Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. "This is motivating them. This means that we are one step closer to flying home."
1CAB will complete their Atlantic Resolve rotation in early November, and return home to Fort Riley for some much earned down time with friends and family.